APPA Product Store offers Facebook content through eco@home consumer outreach program

Has your utility just launched a Facebook page and now you are scrambling for content to engage your customers?  You might want to check out the APPA Product Store, now offering Facebook content through the eco@home consumer outreach program.

Subscribers to this service will receive postings for each work day that provide daily energy-efficiency information and energy-saving tips for residential customers. Subscriptions to the Facebook content service are on an annual basis. Utilities will receive their posts each month via email.

The APPA Product Store also offers the eco@home quarterly newsletter. The newsletters are co-branded with the utility’s name and contact information and include tips to help public power customers save energy and reduce their costs. The deadline for enrolling in the spring edition of the newsletter is March 1.

For more information or to subscribe to the eco@home newsletter or Facebook content service, contact the APPA Product Store or 202-467-2926.

ACEEE report looks at workplace energy behavior programs

From Public Power Daily  Redirecting to a non-government site, American Public Power Association, Jan. 11, 2012

Energy behavior programs aimed at reducing building energy use through change in employees’ attitudes and behaviors, such as those instituted at the House of Representatives, can help build an energy-efficient office culture, according to a Jan. 10 report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Energy savings from the five energy behavior projects studied ranged from 4 percent (from a stand-alone behavior program) to nearly 75 percent (from a comprehensive project in which a behavior program is a component), said the study, Greening Work Styles: Analysis of Energy Behavior Programs in the Workplace Redirecting to a non-government site.

These programs also create benefits that extend beyond the workplace, as participants often become more energy conscious at home and in their communities, ACEEE said.

One program, the “Green the Capitol” initiative, promoted a comprehensive package aimed at reducing energy use, waste and the carbon footprint of the House of Representatives by switching electricity fuel from coal to natural gas, relighting the Capitol dome with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and promoting a series of behavior programs at offices such as turning off computers and other office equipment when not in use, carpooling, commuting by bicycle, and recycling, the report said. Eighteen months after its launch, the Green the Capitol program had reduced the House’s carbon footprint by 74 percent, ACEEE said.

Comparing neighbors’ electricity use drives savings, awareness

Using energy consumption reports and friendly neighborhood competition to motivate customers to save energy was the topic of another Public Power Magazine story in October.

Last year, City Water Light and Power (CWLP) in Springfield, Ill., conducted a pilot program in which 400 randomly-selected households received messages comparing their average energy use to that of their neighbors. Another group of 400 households received messages comparing their average energy use to that of residents citywide. The performance reports also included a summary of total household electric costs and energy use during previous months as compared to others nearby, along with energy conservation tips.

The amount of energy the experimental groups consumed compared to a control group was not significantly different, the utility found after seven months. However, study participants believed the energy performance reports pushed them to conserve.

CWLP’s study is similar the Behavior and Energy Savings program Fort Collins Utilities launched in 2010. That pilot proved successful enough that it is expanding to Loveland, Colo., and other cities in the region.

Read more about using social marketing to reduce consumers’ energy use.

Lincoln Electric System makes plans to reduce load growth

In the October 2011 issue of Public Power Magazine, the American Public Power Association shined a spotlight on Western customer Lincoln Electric System (LES) for its Sustainable Energy Program.

The Nebraska municipal utility launched the program in 2009, even though it offers customers some of the lowest rates in the country. According to LES Energy Services Manager Marc Shkolnick, the Sustainable Energy Program will help keep the rates down by dampening peak load when purchased energy rates are at their highest. Perhaps more important, carefully chosen energy-efficiency measures could help LES put off building a new power plant for up to 10 years.

Learn more about how LES is encouraging customers to change their energy use habits without paying out incentives.

Customer Connections Conference offers focus on energy services

The American Public Power Association’s 2011 Customer Connections Conference,  Nov. 6 to 9 in Savannah, Ga., will feature a full track of sessions devoted to energy services topics.

The conference will cover:

  • Low-cost ways to deliver Smart Grid benefits to your community
  • Smart grid stories: sharing smart practices
  • Justifying your utility’s energy-efficiency programs
  • Energy-efficiency technologies for C&I customers
  • Programs to meet your energy-efficiency and renewable portfolio standards
  • Changing infrastructure developments

The Customer Connections Conference also offers sessions on key accounts, public communications, marketing and customer service, as well as roundtable discussions, networking breakfasts, receptions and other opportunities for networking and information exchange.

Conference participants will have the opportunity to attend a full-day pre-conference seminar on Sunday, Nov. 6, on “Energy Services that Work: Commercial Energy-efficiency Programs.” This in-depth seminar will focus on commercial energy-efficiency activities, energy audit programs and the importance of evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V) of results. It has close ties to the new APPA publication, Energy Services That Work, produced with the association’s Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments program.

Conference fees are $645 for APPA members and $1,290 for non-members who register before Oct. 14. Pre-conference seminars require a separate registration fee.

Smart grid education grants available

American Public Power Association is offering 50 DOE-funded tuition slots for a series of three online courses for electric power industry workers on clean energy solutions and smart grid deployment. The grants are available to the first 50 individuals who register.

Intended to be an overview, Renewable Energy Sources and the Smart Grid was developed by the Energy Providers Coalition for Education in cooperation with the Center for Adult Education and Learning. The webinar series explores:

  • Electricity production from various forms of renewable energy as well as the function, operation and vision of the smart grid
  • Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, ocean, biomass and geothermal
  • A high-level look at smart grid challenges, benefits, technology needs and the vital role of the consumer

Students who successfully complete this 10-hour, self-study course offered by Bismarck State College’s National Energy Center of Excellence will earn one continuing education unit. To register, please contact Laura Alden at 303-804-4671.

APPA/DEED webinar covers smart grid planning tool pilot

Join the American Public Power Association April 27, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET,  for Lessons Learned Using the Smart Grid Maturity Model.

The Smart Grid Maturity Model (SGMM) is a management tool, developed by and for utilities, that helps plan smart grid implementation, prioritize options and measure progress. 

This webinar presents the results of a pilot study undertaken by American Municipal Power and several of its members to evaluate the usefulness of the SGMM to public power utilities planning to modernize their grids. The pilot was part of a program of APPA’s Demonstration of Energy-effiicient Developments (DEED) program.

This webinar is free for DEED/APPA members, $89 for APPA members and $179 for non APPA members. Register today.

Building energy work force is topic of APPA/DEED webinar March 30

An APPA webinar, Fostering the Energy Work Force Pipeline – Best Practices from SMUD’s DEED Project, will discuss one utility’s approach to making sure it has qualified workers in the future. The webinar will take place on March 30, from 2-3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

The electric utility industry in the United States is facing a shortage of qualified workers in engineering disciplines. Baby boomers are retiring. The loss of these experienced workers comes at a time of rapid technological change in the energy industry (advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid, distributed generation, storage, and renewable generation). At the same time, a shortfall is expected in the number of students training for careers in math and science. Read more, and register.

Source: American Public Power Association, 3/22/11

Scholarships available to Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop

Don’t let a tight travel budget keep you from attending the Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop Jan. 19 to 21, 2011. A limited number of $500.00 travel scholarships are available to utility representatives who want to learn how to analyze the impacts of these variable resources on utility distribution networks.

The Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) is presenting this workshop at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo.  The agenda is highlighting UWIG’s online DG Evaluation Toolbox, which enables engineers to analyze the impacts of these types of variable generation on utility distribution networks.  Participants will also be able to tour the Electric Power Training Center and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center.

Registration for the workshop is limited to 30, and scholarships are offered on a first come, first served basis.  To secure a scholarship, contact Randy Manion, Western Area Power Administration, at 720-962-7423. Learn more about the agenda, accommodations and registration.

UWIG is sponsoring this workshop in partnership with Western, American Public Power Association, Wind Powering America, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, U.S. Department of Energy Wind Technologies Program, American Wind Energy Association and Solar Electric Power Association.

How utilities can jump the curve

Author and futurist Jack Uldrich, followed Crisson with an uplifting presentation about how technology can help utilities “jump the curve,”—if we recognized what the trends are and where they are headed. “Future is here,” Uldrich explained, “it is just not evenly distributed.”

Using cell phones, Google and Netflix as just a few examples, Uldrich illustrated how quickly a technology can grow and change behavior in unexpected ways. People are so busy in day to day jobs, they don’t notice the 800 lb gorilla walking through the room. How emerging technologies can help utilities. You can’t just understand where trends are. Those trends are going to jump the curve. They grow exponentially. Ten years ago, GOOGLe hosted 25,000 searches per day, today 25,000,000,000.

Solar, fuel cells, smart meters, synthetic biology and “micro-grids” are technologies that are poised for explosive growth. Utilities must predict where these technologies will take the industry in two, four, 10 years.  Uldrich pointed out that on Dec. 17, 1903, the news was all about a “record-shattering “63-day automobile trip across country. Little notice was taken of the 12-second flight the Wright Brothers took in their flying machine at Kitty Hawk. “That 12 seconds rendered the 63-day trip irrelevant,” he said.

Nanotechnology is becoming the “flying machine” of the 21st century—it will change our civilization more in the next 25 years than during all the 20th century.  We have to begin thinking about where this change is taking us.

Practical applications of nanotechnology include new ceramic materials that radically increase efficiency of transmission lines. It will eventually make safe storage of nuclear waste possible, create nanofilters for cleaning particulates and make lighting will be so efficient, costs will decrease by $100 billion. New materials will make wind turbines radically smaller and three times more efficient and give us a way to store that power.

Small changes lead to big profits, Uldrich pointed out. Nano-enhanced textiles increase 1000-fold.

Tools are radically more powerful. Computers were capable of 70 trillion calculations per second in 2008. Super computers are now up to 1 quadrillion and in a few more year, it will be 10 quadrillion. This will affect your business. This trend will continue as we do things we have always done in ways we cannot predict:

  • Smart home controls, which cost Bill Gates $2.5 million to install 10 years ago, can now be installed for about $40,000. A chip being developed now will allow consumers to control their home remotely for as little as $72 per year.
  • Demand-side management will be done through real-time monitoring. Self-healing grids will make massive power blackouts obsolete.
  • Solar farms now have a 15- to 20-year payback, but plastic-printed solar cells will change the economics. The field of solar panels will become the solar wrapped roof.
  • Fuel cells developed by Bloom Energy now cost $750,000 and are the size of a parking space. The company predicts that in 10 years, its fuel cell will cost only $3,000. Coupled with cheap solar that development will radically alter the utility business.
  • The creation of artificial life is a huge story left unreported. Designer bugs—genetically engineered bacterial—will be able to eat CO2, excrete fuel. This is a sustainable carbon-based loop.

These technologies are a lot closer than they appear.

 Big industries can become obsolete QUICKLY if they don’t jump the curve. Even though changes seem to happen slowly at first, it suddenly becomes mind-bogglingly rapid. That sometimes requires companies to make large capital investments in technology that won’t be around in 30 years. This is painful but necessary to keep the company in business.

We must be willing to unlearn what we know. Information that was true once, changes, but often our minds don’t—not fast enough, anyway.

The future belongs to those who have the courage to chart a new course.  Tomorrow is not going to look pretty much like yesterday, said Uldrich. Utilities can help to create a fundamentally new future.